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Bears excited about what No. 9 pick in draft will yield

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With the No. 1 and No. 9 picks in the April 25-27 NFL Draft, the Bears have a rare opportunity to select two players in the top 10 for the first time in 45 years.

In 1979, they chose defensive tackle Dan Hampton at No. 4 with a pick they had obtained in a trade with the Buccaneers and defensive end Al Harris at No. 9.

As this year's draft approaches, much has been written and said about what the Bears will do with the No. 1 selection they acquired last year in a blockbuster deal with the Panthers. But they're also excited about what the No. 9 choice will yield.

"Having that No. 9 pick is a really good spot to be in," said coach Matt Eberflus. "It's right there at the top. We're going to get a 'blue' player there, for sure. What we've done in free agency allows us to be flexible, to really be able to take the best player, one we feel fits us in that spot."

Last week at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, general manager Ryan Poles told reporters that upon returning to Halas Hall, he and his staff were going to debate which position should be targeted at No. 9.

"I like the numbers in terms of the talented players that can get to nine," Poles said. "We're going to do some cool things when we get back, kind of break into teams. One team is going to talk about [why] the tackle position is the best to go after, [why] the receiver's the best, [why] the defensive end's the best and use factual information to spit that out—and we'll have a debate in terms of what's more impactful for our football team, short-term and long-term."

"We're going to look at, 'Hey, who's the best tackle? Who's the best receiver? Who's the best rusher? Who's the best this or that?'" Eberflus added. "It's going to be good to be able to break into that and see guys' opinions. In order to have good communication, it's got to be authentic and it's got to be true, and you have to be able to speak your opinion."

Poles acknowledged that the Bears could trade down from No. 9 to acquire more than the four picks they currently have heading into the draft.

"For sure," he said. "That will kind of play out. We'll see what the numbers look like and that'll kind of dictate how far we can move back if we decide to do that."

In addition to their two first-round choices, the Bears' other two selections are in the third round (No. 75) and fourth round (No 122). If Poles does not acquire more picks, he'll be OK without having any selections in the final three rounds.

"I think it matches the draft," Poles said. "A lot of guys went back to school this year. I think you're going to see a significant drop off. Hopefully some guys squeak through, but the way we're set up in the draft this year actually pairs up really well with how I think it's going to play out."

In his first two drafts as Bears general manager, Poles selected 11 players in 2022 and 10 in 2023.

"If we don't move at all, that's 25 picks in three years, which is over eight and some change [per year]," he said. "I like where we're at there on top of being set up next year to have a pretty good setup as well."

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